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Notre Dame Basketball

Vegas heater: Irish offense erupts in runaway win

November 24, 2021

Finally, Notre Dame got its offense untracked.

The defense did its part as well, holding Maui Invitational host Chaminade scoreless across a seven-plus minute drought that spanned the final 53 seconds of the first half and nearly seven minutes into the second frame.

In the end, it meant the Fighting Irish cruised to an 90-64 victory inside against the NCAA Division II Silverswords (2-2) inside Las Vegas’ Michelob Ultra Arena and into Wednesday's fifth-place tilt against Texas A&M.

“This is the second time that we've been matched up with them,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who notched his 451st win at the school, “and I always worry about them getting us. Especially for us, we invest a lot last night and had a disappointing finish against a really good team in St. Mary's. I thought we were ready to go.”

Irish senior guard Dane Goodwin erupted for a game-high 17 points and tops amongst six Irish in double figures. Nate Laszewski got a bit loose for a season-best 15 points while newcomer Blake Wesley ignited Notre Dame off the bench with 14 points. Paul Atkinson Jr. scored a dozen – his fourth game in double figures in as many tries for the Irish – while Cormac Ryan and Prentiss Hubb each added 11.

Goodwin's deft perimeter shooting – three-for-five from 3-point range, seven-11 overall – as well as nifty footwork in the paint helped fuel Notre Dame's 23-0 run that transformed a three-point game at the half into an a runaway win.

“We had talked about it in the locker room, we needed to come out firing and needed to come out and have the intensity that we had,” Goodwin said. “We went on a 21-0 run. It really came from a bunch of guys, started on the defensive end and we talked about that; we needed to be better on the defensive end. They were hitting shots all over.”

Blake Wesley continued his ascendant play, both with the final bucket of the first half off a defensive rebound that he used for a coast-to-coast bucket at the buzzer, and with a pair of emphatic break-away dunks. Wesley also rifled the game's best assist, when he took an outlet pass at midcourt and flat-out zipped the ball to Cormac Ryan for a layup.

Logging 24 minutes off the bench, the freshman Wesley closed with his 14-point effort on six-for-12 shooting plus snared six rebounds; he passed off three assists and, perhaps most importantly, did not commit a turnover.

Notre Dame outrebounded Chaminade by 11, 43-32, and commanded a 46-22 edge on points in the paint against the undermanned Silverswords. The Irish hit 12 of 26 from distance and outscored the Silverswords 49-26 in the final half.

“I talked to them about that during the game, even when our lead was big in the second half. We didn't dribble as much. I thought we had it on the floor a lot (Monday) night,” Brey said of the Irish's execution, particularly on offense. “Some of that was St. Mary's defense, because they can really play it as we've seen for two nights. I just thought we were antsy and anxious, and we played on one side of the floor. We reversed it better tonight and moved it. Everybody's looking for therapy to grow their team right now. This is our fourth game, so some growth on the offensive end. Something to talk about.”

The Irish shot 56% from the floor in the game – number buoyed by their 21 of 33 second-half cookout. They finished with 14 assists; nine of those handouts came in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought we really shared it a lot better, playing out of the post a lot better, too; playing through Paul and Nate,” Goodwin said. “I think taking the ball out of our hands and passing it more and getting some good movement off the ball also helped us. We talked about that in shoot-around today, and it was nice to see it carry over into the game.”

The Irish generated their highest-scoring first half of the young season, but they needed the quick spurt before the break just to hold a 41-38 edge.

And that lead almost evaporated when the Silverswords had their final shot of the half hang on the rim before it was corralled by Wesley, who raced the length of the court and finished off the glass with an emphatic reaction.

With one game left in Maui, the Irish get their first opportunity this season for a Power 5 win. They'll face the Aggies at 11:30 p.m. ET with the event's No. 5 spot up for grabs

“I just thought we were more poised offensively than the night before, and that was an area we talked about growing,” Brey said. “I told them in the locker room, let's get out of this city 2-1. Only one team leaves 3-0. You have a chance to beat an SEC team, obviously, in Texas A&M. We'll go back and prepare.”

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